Sunday, 21 September 2008

The two faces of Interface

Followers of this blog will be all too familiar with Squarepeg's plans for the Chocolate Factory in Greenbank and of course their urban and alternative looking website. The firm behind the website and other promotional material like the newsletters (printed on recycled paper, naturally) is Interface, also known somewhat cringingly as "The Gee Factor" after boss Jenny Gee.

(Picture link deleted by Interface)

I have to say that Interface have done a good job promoting Squarepeg as a benign developer and the Chocolate Factory scheme as the best thing to come to Greenbank since, well, the Railway Path in 1985 I suppose. No mean achievement to have persuaded a bunch of Easton radicals and environmentalists to keep stum over plans to destroy a substantial section of the green corridor of the Railway Path just months after the same people were literally taking to the streets in protest at an earlier scheme to do the same thing.

(Picture link deleted by Interface)

Interface's website is strangely difficult to find, considering that they specialise in "design, marketing and software development" but persistence payed off and then another facet of Interface's activities was revealed. It seems that their more usual product is those piles of glossy brochures, junk mail and surplus packaging (all links deleted by Interface) that help fill our recycling boxes.

It seems that in the world of Interface, whether it's whitewash or greenwash, business is business.

9 comments:

woodsy said...

"No mean achievement to have persuaded a bunch of Easton radicals and environmentalists to keep stum over plans to destroy a substantial section of the green corridor of the Railway Path just months after the same people were literally taking to the streets in protest at an earlier scheme to do the same thing."

Not to mention the fact that the development now proposed for the site involves far more rabbit hutch homes than in Persimmon's proposals that were successfully seen off by the locals.

Glenn Vowles said...

They are 'business as usual' as opposed to radical and green!

Spectator said...

Yup... looks horribly like the Chocolate Box crowd sold Easton residents out... for what price we can only guess… though I would love to be persuaded otherwise. Unfortunately however, many of the minutes of the Neighbourhood Renewal (NR) Planning Group that refer to this, and also all the Chocolate Box minutes, were put not on the NR website, but on the Chocolate Box website... which has now… conveniently disappeared! I've looked on the Time Machine web archive, but this material wasn't saved... funny though, the Chocolate Box site disappeared around the time when Squarepeg took over... and, by the way, those Planning Group meetings were part of the NR project and were paid for out of public funds.

It's also interesting that, though some Chocolate Box people now say that it was nothing more than a loose affiliation of people, at the time of the Persimmon appeal, they had held weekly meetings for over 6 months, had regular liaison with Easton and Lawrence Hill Neighbourhood Planning Group, produced a regular newsletter, leafleted, arranged for UWE to carry out social interviews, arranged for IRIS to carry out social interviews, etc...

The surviving minutes of Planning Group meetings (May 2007 - Jan 2008, available on the NR site) show that, as late as the winter of 2007, quite a few (named) individuals chose to identify themselves not as 'residents' like the rest of us, but as 'Chocolate Box'. Not so loose after all.

Sad thing is that many of these people seemed to care about the area... now they are silent... what has changed? I'd love to know... do they really want the area to be turned into a densely jammed-in heap of modernist concrete and cars? Or are they just embarrassed that they were conned by Squarepeg? Perhaps some of the Chocolate Box members would like to come forward and give a response?

The Bristol Blogger said...

It's a shame that none of this Chocolate Box group are prepared to come forward and discuss this because it should be very easy to reach a consensus here.

Namely, that for all its faults the Ferguson development proposals are the least worst option, especially if you accept the reality that the land is going to be developed in some form.

However it is unacceptable to build on the Railway Path.

The answer therefore is for the development to ahead without the daft cycle houses (or anything else) being built directly on the path.

Anonymous said...

Thanks again for persisting on this issue!
We need to protect the Path and fight for a lower key development than is planned.
Certainly I for one haven't been taken in by the "greenwash"
Woodsy is 100% right that this developemnet is worse than the Persimon plans!
It's not just the cycle path, but the increase in traffic from all the new houses (garages included)

Nick Foster Green Party Candidate St. George East Bye Election

thebristolblogger said...

A PR firm deleting their pictures from your blog rather makes them look worried, nt in control and on the back foot doesn't it?

You wouldn't get that with max Clifford.

Chris Hutt said...

It doesn't say much for their skills as a PR company, does it, unless they wanted to give the story a higher profile.

Perhaps Interface are from the "all publicity is good publicity" school. I doubt that their clients Squarepeg will agree though.

bristle said...

This looks like it will run and run, keep up the good work :D

Anonymous said...

so wot r u doing supporting squarepeg's tree specialist ? Doh !